The opening ceremony was attended by a large number of state officials, people active in politics and culture, representatives of various organizations, and numerous Armenian and non-Armenian artists and art lovers. The opening speech was given by Ms. Suzy Minasian-Derderian, a staff member at the Art Gallery, who emphasized the significant symbolic meaning of this gallery-expansion project in the Lebanese-Armenian community, which was achieved through the collective efforts of a large number of people.
Gharibian-Kalemkerian also read a letter by Mr. Karen Aghamyan, president of the Artists’ Union of Armenia. According to Aghamyan’s letter, the Hamazkayin Lucy Tutunjian Art Gallery, which began its operations four years ago, has achieved to organize numerous individual and collective exhibitions in a short period of time, offering the opportunity to Armenian and Arab art lovers in Lebanon to enjoy great pieces of contemporary art. Aghamyan wrote: “The role of Hamazkayin, and in this case, of the [Lucy Tutunjian] Art Gallery, is significant in relation to presenting the works of talented artists from Armenia and to strengthening the relations [between Lebanon and Armenia] through the language of the arts.”
Yapoudjian then talked about the activities of the “Vahe Sethian” Publishing House in the last 15 years. He said that in 1998, the then Hamazkayin Central Executive Board, appointed Mr. Hagop Havatian as director of the Publishing House. Through his innovative spirit, Havatian achieved not only to continue the work that had started many years ago, but also to equip the Publishing House with new printing equipment, renovate the Hamazkayin Bookstore thanks to a donation by Mr. Hovig and Mrs. Maral Kurkdjian, participate in international book exhibitions, and establish close ties with galleries in Armenia, thus contributing to the strengthening of Armenia-Diaspora relations.
Bishop Panossian added that we currently live in an unfavorable environment, but throughout its centuries-long existence, our nation has amassed great inner strength, especially in the form of culture and spiritual heritage, through which we believe we can survive and safely move forward in the future. We only need to be aware of and loyal to our heritage, he said.
After concluding his speech, Bishop Panossian read a message sent by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia. In his message, Catholicos Aram I commended highly the launch of the expanded Lucy Tutunjian Art Gallery, as well as Hamazkayin’s contributions to the advancement of Armenian culture and arts.